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Why do hens crowd into just one nest box?

PUBLISHED: 16:32 25 April 2014

Two hens crowding into one nest box

Two hens crowding into one nest box

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Why do all my hens try to crowd into one nest box even though I have provided four for my six hens?

Keith Maslem, by email

Charlotte Popescu says:

Hens love to lay eggs where others have laid; they are often instinctively thinking about going broody so they will be attracted to the nest which already has eggs in it. They will often queue up just so they can lay in the favoured nest box despite other boxes being empty. I did some research on this topic and on one particular forum people were commenting that their hens always lay in the left-hand nest box. This is also my most popular nest box, but I have no idea why! It could possibly be to do with visual lateralisation which means that birds can use their eyes simultaneously to perform different tasks; for example the right eye to search for food and the left eye to watch for predators. Maybe they feel safest on the left.

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